Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Rolf's Updates - My Priorities in Life - Health, Finance, Family, Friends & Hobbies – 2019 2Q

Without specific reason, I was prompted to update my blog. While deliberating for a topic, it struck me that my last H2F3 updates was 3-4 months ago. 

Refer here for what does H2F3 (Health, Hobbies, Family, Finance & Friends) means.

Refer here for Q12019 H2F3 update.

So here I am, writing to update 2019Q2 H2F3. At the day of writing this article, I was reading Ray Dalio’s Book “Principles: Life and Work. One section of the book told about the “first principle of life”. It is summarized as.

·      Think For Yourself to decide:
1.     What do you want,
2.     What is true,
3.     What should do to achieve #1 in light of #2.

You can also refer here for my previous blog on Ray Dalio’s video.

I added these principles into my H2F3 priorities.


Generally good with no sickness. Nonetheless my son is sick lately, but thank God, his health is restored completely now.

What I want: Maintain my BMI 23-24. Standing at 178cm, this will require me to be ~75 Kg. I am currently at my heaviest at 80Kg. Time to slim down! I had been exercising regularly all my life. So the physical exercise part is not so difficult. I still frequent the gym for reasonable muscular exercise. For aerobic part, I played table tennis and swim regularly. The most challenging part for me is controlling my diet! Dinners from work commitments, and late night suppers does not help. Time to resist these temptations! For my spiritual health, I read the bible and pray daily. But lately, due to lack of time, I am not devoting as much time as I will like. Quite frustrated with that too. Last but not least, rest and sleep is lacking since the start of the year due to work! Yes, I yearn to catch up with that too.


Family always takes precedence over my work.  I am thankful for my beautiful family. And then, my wife has priority over children. It is obvious to me that, without the husband and wife in unity, the kids will not be taught well.

With both of us parents working, and huge household members of kids, parent-in-law and helper, it is uphill task to juggle so many things smoothly. Every family has problem, mine is no difference. The difference we can make is the need to learn how to accept and deal with family-friction righteously. Forgiveness is so important in order that small friction will not become big problems. So far, I must say we are doing really well as a family. Although emotions can be elevated occasionally, but all is still very well managed.

As for husband and wife relationship, it is important to spend quiet personal time together without the kids. My wife and me will apply leave once in a while on a Monday afternoon to go for nice lunch, movie and KTV. And occasionally we will go for late night drinks when kids are asleep.

Parenting is always a big part of my life. Seeing your kids growing up is pure joy. Teaching and disciplining them is not easy but essential. For the last months, I had been working on PPT slides to summarize my previous blog writings. As I mentioned in my blog’s purpose (refer here), my blog will be a diary of teachings for my children when they grow up.

Separately, I also spend time regularly to train all my kids in table tennis, and my primary schooler is improving really fast to the satisfaction of her school coach. With her focus in sports, somehow her school work and discipline level also improved as feedback from her school teachers.

This week Monday is Youth Day holiday. While my wife is working, I took a day off to bring my kids out for movie. They were overjoyed. I am overjoyed too, when they are!

What I want: Wife to be able to stop working eventually or in an environment with more time mothering our kids. Implement my PPT teaching slides as a regular home class with my kids. Say at least 3h per week at different levels. I wanted my kids to build continuously a very strong character with love, peace and joy. They must honor their parents, love and help their family members, at least be average in studies, have fantastic relationships with friends and excel in cca. Then with these “fruits” shown, expand my teachings to relatives/friends’ kids.

And I need to keep on learning to be a Good Husband and a Good Father! This, to me, is more difficult and more important than being rich and famous!


I am still in the same company. Group is not doing well, but locally we are still ok. I got a bigger role recently with expanded co-workers in an expanded regional coverage. You can call it  promotion without salary adjustments. But, it is not really what I want, but I have to accept it professionally due to the circumstances the company is in now. Time management in my life became more critical nowadays. 5 years from now, I hope to have a change in my career to do something of my own. We shall see.

Investments / loan
Portfolio wise, I target to grow 7-8% per annum. This growth is steady in the last years. Last quarter, Bitcoin has been my stellar performance. It grew from 2% of total portfolio to 6% due to BTC tripling. I also added more silver and shares of Raffles Medical. Currently,  I am 39% Cash, 37% metals 6 % crypto 9% shares 9% bonds. CPF and properties excluded.

In 5 year’s time, I hope to have with returns to sustain 50% household expenses. I also wish to pay down mortgage loan to less than 15% of property market value in 5 years’ time, with mortgage covered by income from other rental flat(s). Reckon it is achievable, as long as I am still working in the next 5 years.  

Teaching syllabus for kids
As mentioned earlier, I will like to finish my PPT Teaching Syllabus for my kids and perhaps within 5 years, expands the teachings for the benefits of others.

Charitable acts
Continue to apportion a part of money for charitable acts each month. Lately, I committed to contributing for my niece overseas education monthly expenses. My sister use to support me during my university days, and when I mentioned I will support my niece, my sister is so touched.


Friends are very important to me. Gatherings with relatives and friends are taking place regularly. No matter how busy I am, I will find time to initiate catch up with my good friends.  My social circle expanded with my involvement in the table tennis circle. Due to the expanded role in work, I will also get to be closer with more new colleagues.


Signed up for the Singapore Table Tennis League competition in Div 4 of the 7th Div. Will try to play at least once a week with friends, and once a week training for my kids. Similarly, once a week for gym, and once a week for leisure swimming. Reading bible is daily. Will try to read at least 1  book per quarter. Continue to blog at least 1 article per month.


Health - Not as good as I wanted. Grow heavier and more restless. Time to slim down.
Hobbies – Good to pick up table tennis again for myself and also for coaching my kids.
Family – Not too bad, as we still spend lots of time together.
Financial – Not too bad as my job seems pretty secured, but tired at times.
Friends – Not much changes. Still catching up with friends frequently.

Ok, enough said. I prayed for the blessings of love, peace and joy be upon all my friends and readers here. Bye for now. :-)

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Why is Gold and Crypto rising?

As I am writing,

Gold price crossed the $1,400 an ounce mark in 5 years and Bitcoin crossed the psychological $11,000 mark per coin. 

The increase in Gold price is likely to due to several factors mentioned below, but often related to uncertainty and low interest rate. If economy is good and looking good, with rising interest rate environment, then Gold price will fall. Vice versa.

- increasing tensions in the Middle-East primarily reflected by the attacks of two tankers in the Gulf.
- global uncertainties from US-China trade wars.
- USD weakened while its 10 year yields dropped below 2% is another factor.
- countries like China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Hungary accumulating gold.

I am holding on to Gold and Silver as my biggest portfolio. They are not for yield, but just a hedge.
If economy is good, G & S price dropped, but I am not worry because then, business will be good, everyone will be optimistic and jobless rate will be low.

The rise in Gold price pales when compares to the price of Bitcoin. Price of BTC rose from US$4k in Jan to now US$11k, almost 3x!

Why is it rising so fast.... I do not know.

I heard someone saying, Gold is God's money, Crypto is People's money and Currency is Fiat money. Maybe this is the reason!

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Vietnam - the country can potentially benefit from US-China Trade War?

Which country can benefit from the trade war?

Definitely not Singapore.

We are very dependent on trade of these two countries and it’s going to be disruptive to our economy.

But one country that can benefit is Vietnam.

Background of Vietnam

Vietnam is a country that is very similar to China few decades ago. It is a communist country gradually being more and more open. They are very friendly to foreign investors. People are getting more and more educated. Labour force is still extremely competitive in the manufacturing sector, with GDP per capita in Vietnam is fairly low at 2.6KUSD p.a., from 100 million population. Vietnam’s economy grew consistently 6-7% yearly in the last decade or so. Nominal GDP of Vietnam reached ~250 BUSD end 2018. Vietnam's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is between 3-4 BUSD and not exceed 5 BUSD in the last decade. There is definitely enough rooms to grow in terms of GDP and FDI.

My experience in Vietnam

Since 2007, I had business relationships with many Vietnamese companies and making many trips to Vietnam, whether its Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. Thereby, also making many good Vietnamese friends there with decade-long relationships. In the last 2-3 years, I also made many trips to Vietnam each year.

Clever people
My first business trip to Vietnam is in 2007. I was already impressed by the people there. They are very clever, but of course wide-spread corruptions are making business extremely complicated. It took me close to 3-4 years of lobbying in the country before securing my first contract there.

Complexity of business
Most big companies are state-owned, like China. Smaller companies are often set-up to be the trading / importing arm of the bigger state-owned companies. Therefore, many business contracts are dealt with the middle-man companies, while technical discussions can be done jointly with the state-owned end-user and trading companies. It is all about relationships and who you know in Vietnam. Being a foreigner, it is unlikely to know first time, who has a better relationship with the end-user and, or who is telling the truth.

Progress, just like China
Despite being country where business dealings are not the simplest, it has progressed a lot in the last decade. Each time I went to Vietnam over a few years, I see improvements. Economy continue to grow. More and more buildings. Infrastructure has improved. I remember in 2008 from HCM to Vungtau, the roads are so bumpy. But nowadays the roads from HCM are great. Reminding me very much of China when I use to travel from Shanghai to the outskirt provinces. The capital of Vietnam is in HCM with state government in Hanoi, likened Shanghai and Bejing respectively.

Debts’ headroom
Most Vietnamese still purchase property without leveraging on bank’s borrowings. Typically, in the City, a 100sqm apartment can cost approx. 150-250KUSD. I remember asking friends there how much down-payments and how much bank loans? They were confused because they paid 100% of the property with cash. One reason is the mind-set of debt-free for the older generation, and the other is the high mortgage rate >5%. Gross savings rate was measure at ~25.5% in Dec 2017.

Education and open mind-set
Vietnamese are getting more and more educated and in general those in the 40s are driving the business environment with very open mind and well-mix of knowledge outside and inside the country. Lots of emphasis is placed on their children’s education with majority of the younger generations being proficient in English.


Foreign investors already considered Vietnam’s factory districts as alternative to China. But Vietnamese government need to balance between FDI and the effect of trade with China worsening.

Vietnam is definitely like a mini-China of the past. I think if Singaporeans are smart enough, they can benefit from Vietnam’s growth going forward. For those who does not know, flight from Singapore to HCM is 2h and flight from Hanoi to HCM is also 2h. This makes Singapore strategically placed in terms of distance also.

I told one of my very good Vietnamese friends who is a business man in Vietnam, that the next time I am there, I will definitely extend my trip to discuss potential investments together. My friend is welcoming. I am definitely positive about the future of Vietnam.